Theme – Effective feedback
When teachers give effective feedback, students are provided with relevant, explicit, ongoing, constructive and actionable information about their performance against learning outcomes from the syllabus. This effective feedback encourages students to reflect on their work more deeply and empowers them to identify where and how they can improve.
Practical strategies for giving effective feedback
What works best in practice (pages 13-16) provides teachers with key strategies on how to:
- reflect and communicate about learning tasks with students
- provide detailed and specific feedback to students about what they need to do to achieve growth as a learner
- encourage students to self-assess, reflect and monitor their work
- ensure that students act on feedback.
The reflection toolkit (page 4) can be used to reflect on how you currently provide students with effective feedback in the classroom, to identify what you are doing well and any areas for improvement.
Video conversation with Homebush West Public School
In this video and podcast, Mark Scott, former Secretary of the NSW Department of Education, speaks with Homebush West Public School Principal, Estelle Southall and her students about how their school embeds effective feedback in their practices.
She describes how students at Homebush West seek out and value feedback and how teachers support students to work towards staged improvement.
So, Estelle, tell us why feedback is so important at Homebush West Public School.
Well, Mark, you know, the research is absolutely crystal clear, including all the meta-analysis of the research. Feedback is a powerful – has a powerful impact on student outcomes and achievements. If we’re going to be implementing practices that are effective – practices that are the most effective – then it’s really worth investing in a culture of feedback to ensure that our students can really leverage learning gains.
So what’s the key to providing effective feedback? I think, you know, most organisations, most businesses would say that it’s one of the hardest things to do. How do you create a culture of effective feedback?
Well, you’re absolutely right. Effective feedback is really nuanced. It’s not praise, it’s not superficial, and it’s certainly not simplistic. Some keys to effective feedback include ensuring that feedback is timely, that feedback is targeted and individualised, and that it’s ongoing and frequent, specifically related to the skill or task that the learner is engaged with, and that it moves each learner forward in their current learning.
I’m really interested in how you create a culture of feedback amongst a staff so that you’re confident that there are good feedback practices that are taking place in every one of your classrooms.
Sure. Well, I think most critically is the teachers at Homebush West work collaboratively and collectively to continually improve and understand their practice. So what’s been really critical has been classroom observations and the practice of reflecting on research and sharing strategies.
One of the things that’s really interesting about embedding a culture of feedback is, of course, that students come to seek feedback and really value it, but also they become quite adept at giving feedback. And one of the things I really value most is that our students here are quite adept at giving me and teachers feedback on the design of their learning, assessment tasks, things we could do to improve the school, and of course our leadership as well.
So let’s talk to the students. Can any of the students there today give me an example of when you’ve received good feedback and how that feedback has helped you in your learning?
Hi, my name is Devashri and an experience I’ve had with feedback is fortnightly we get random English assessments where we write narratives or persuasive texts. When we finish our work, our teachers mark our rubrics and – to show us which level we’re at, and we – and show us where we need to work towards.
Good morning, I’m Chinmayee and one of the experiences I had with feedback is – well, we have this program every Friday which is called Lightning Writing, which is where we have 15 to 20 minutes to write a piece of writing about a certain topic. One of the experiences I had is when I’d written my piece of writing, I took it to the teacher and she said, “You can use the bump it up or another resource like the complexity rule,” to bump up my work.
And did you find that that helped you?
Yeah, it did.
And how did it help you?
Well, in the bump it up rule we have, like, levels. And so each time we have it, we try to tick off the level we’ve done.
I love the idea that you seem so hungry for feedback. You want to get advice and tips on how to improve, and even if they’re small tips, it’s all about a step towards staged improvement.
I think most adults would say giving feedback is hard, receiving feedback is hard. And I think it’s just wonderful at Homebush West that you’re really developing these skills about giving feedback and receiving feedback, and it’s all about the commitment to improvement. And, you know, our researchers here say that at Homebush West you’re doing this as well as any school we can see anywhere in the state. So I want to thank you for putting feedback on the agenda of all our schools in NSW, and thanks for letting us all learn from your experiences today.
We want to improve teaching practice, school planning and see improvement across NSW education. There’s a lot more information available for you about ‘What works best’ in the NSW Department of Education website.